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Economy flat in April, says BoT

Posted by pakin On May - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The Thai economy is unlikely to meet the 2.7% growth forecast this year, according to Bank of Thailand.

The economic stimulus measures planned by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) are unlikely to bear fruit this year, saidMethi Suphapong, senior director of the fiscal economics policy of the central bank.

Instead, their impacts will be seen until next year, he said.

The Thai economy in April was mostly unchanged from the previous month, according to the Bank of Thailand.

Manufacturing production continued to be sluggish in line with subdued spending as households and businesses remained concerned over prolonged economic and political uncertainties.

Merchandise exports recovered slowly. Although exports of manufactured products gained some traction, exports of agricultural products were held down by falling commodity prices and weakened demand from China.

The tourism sector picked up this month after the termination of the state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

On the stability front, unemployment remained low. Inflation edged higher, driven by increases in prepared food and retail energy prices.

The trade balance recorded a surplus. However, the current account registered a deficit due mainly to repatriation of profits and dividends by foreign companies. The capital account posted a surplus thanks to both foreign direct investment and foreign portfolio investment. Overall, the balance of payments registered a surplus.

French lottery winner to give away 50 million

Posted by pakin On May - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

PARIS – Amid all the gloom over a stagnating economy, serial scandals and a surge in support for the far-right, France finally had a good news story to celebrate on Friday.

A man who scooped more than 72 million euros on the Euro Millions lottery has decided to give 50 million of his jackpot to charity.

In what the Le Parisien tabloid hailed as “an incredible act of generosity,” the unidentified winner from the Haute-Garonne area of southwestern France has said he will share his giveaway between around ten NGOs working on behalf of the disadvantaged.

Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), the organisation that runs the trans-national lottery in France, said the winner had asked to remain anonymous but media reported that he was single, in his 50s and does not have have any children.

“He has a strong sense of social solidarity and he believes in generosity,” an FDJ spokesman said.

Social media was awash with praise for the lucky man, hailed as “a class act,” by numerous commentators on Twitter.

Sociologist Denis Muzet said the act of philanthropy could not have come at a better time for France.

“This individual is sending us a message: success in life is not about how much money you earn but about what you do for others,” Muzet told Le Parisien.

“In a society in crisis, in search of moral reference points, where money dominates everything, his action makes sense.”

Roads to Victory Monument close 4pm

Posted by pakin On May - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Four roads leading to the Victory Monument will be closed from 4pm on Friday, traffic police said.

The Traffic Police Division posted on its website that the roads woud be closed from 4pm due to possible anti-coup protests.

They will be reopened after the rally ends or security forces return to their units, it added.

Motorists are advised to avoid the four roads until the situation, it said.

The roads were also closed on Thursday as about 1,300 soldiers and police were deployed to counter protesters. Few demonstrators turned up on Thursday.

P. Penh court frees workers, activists

Posted by pakin On May - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

PHNOM PENH – A Cambodian court found 25 people guilty on Friday of acts of violence during strikes by garment workers but all were given suspended sentences and freed, a ruling likely to be welcomed by global manufacturers operating in the country.

The deadly crackdown on the strikes and working conditions in the garment sector have attracted international criticism.

Representatives of global brands including Hennes & Mauritz AB, Gap Inc, Puma SE and Levi Strauss & Co visited Cambodia this week to tell the government their buying would depend on stability, transparency and the rule of law, according to IndustriALL Global Union, a labour group based in Switzerland that attended the talks.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges convicted the workers, trade unionists and protesters of intentional violence including damage to public property during strikes in November last year and January 2014.

They were given suspended jail terms of between one and 4 and a half years.

Cambodia’s garment industry generated US$5.3 billion (172 billion baht) in revenue last year. The industry employs about 600,000 people and strikes for higher pay and better working conditions have been on the rise.

Cambodian military police opened fire with assault rifles on Jan 3 to quell a strike by garment factory workers demanding a doubling of their monthly wage to $160. At least three people were killed.

The government increased the wage to $100 from $80 but unions and workers have refused to accept it.

They have joined forces with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which has been protesting on and off for months after claiming it won a general election last July. The party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen won according to the election authority and he remains in power.

Levi’s has cut its sourcing from Cambodia in the past year due to concerns about political instability and human rights violations in the country, the group said in an email to Reuters.

“We reduced our sourcing in Cambodia to reduce supply chain risk and ensure delivery. We hope to see swift progress on the outstanding labour and human rights concerns so our sourcing can return to previous levels,” Levi’s said.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said in a statement after the talks with the government: “For the first time global brands have acknowledged that they are prepared to cost in the price of higher salaries in Cambodia.”

Ahead of the verdicts, Mr Raina had said the companies and unions were concerned about the fate of those appearing in court and that Cambodia “was at risk of losing its status as a strategic sourcing market, with an impact on future investment and growth”.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the minimum wage could not be doubled and that it had to go up gradually for the industry to survive. Exports had dropped 17% in the first three months of the year compared with last year, he said.

“There is no country that can double wages,” Ken Loo said, adding that most international buyers had not agreed to pay more to local factories to enable them to increase wages. “If we increase by too much, factories close.”

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